Jacquie Black, a native storyteller and well-respected figure in Manitoba’s music industry, died Tuesday morning.
Black filled many roles in the music, film and television industry for many years and also worked as a journalist.
She was the director of the Indigenous Music Awards for several years, which are held as part of the Manito Ahbee Festival in Winnipeg each year. She was also the director and author of the TV series TAKEN, which dives into the stories of missing and murdered native women and girls.
Black was in her 50s when she died. Her niece, Mary Black, says she had been in the hospital for about a week and a half with a pre-existing health condition, but her health deteriorated rapidly over the weekend.
“She was tremendously protective and showed me so much power and compassion and gave me many, many of the gifts I have today,” Mary said.
Mary said her aunt was fiercely passionate about fighting for aspiring artists and musicians, especially through her work on the Indigenous Music Awards. She said she was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love for Jacquie after the news of her death became public.
“It gives me a lot of inspiration and a lot of passion, I think to fight for what is right to help someone that I can, when I can, because I now see on my own how many people’s lives she influenced , does not?” she said.
“And those are great shoes to fill.”
Jacquie’s death comes just 24 hours after the death of Vince Fontaine, a famous Sagkeeng First Nation musician who stood in front of the Juno-nominated group Indian City.
Just a day before he died, Fontaine had recorded a song, “Star People,” with her fellow musician Jeremy Koz to send to Jacquie while she was in the hospital.
The song is about life and death, and leaving this earth to the stars, Koz said.
“Jacquie was so supportive of the art community and supported us, especially. And I just thought it would be nice to send her something musical,” Koz said.
Jacquie was unable to speak in the last days of her life, but the song seemed to make her happy, her niece said.
The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Arlen Dumas said Jacquie was a true mentor to many whose spirit will be missed.
“Her passion for ensuring that the voices of indigenous women were heard and taken seriously in the film, radio and television industries will be missed, as will her involvement in the various First Nation cultural events in this county,” he wrote. he in a press release.
A sacred fire for Jacquie Black burns on Woodbine Avenue until Saturday night.